As vice chair and digital president of NordStar Capital, the holding company of the Toronto Star and other daily and community newspapers, John Boynton is on the front lines of the company’s digital growth initiatives. Serving as president and CEO of Torstar from 2017 until April of 2021, Boynton said the company’s digital transformation is what he is most proud of.
“We were seven years behind the industry and our competition, and we had to leapfrog,” he said. Boynton, who serves on the INMA Board of Directors, says he’ll continue pushing digital initiatives across the company. INMA caught up with him to learn more.
INMA: What did you learn in 2020 that helped guide you in 2021?
Boynton: People are extremely resilient and reinforce that the business is all about people/talent. Also that in times of crisis, it’s even more important that you stick to your strategic imperative and even double down on it.
INMA: If you had your career to do over again, what would you want to know in the beginning?
Boynton: Anything and everything about people management. Everyone learns this over a very long period of time through practice, being mentored, and studying.
INMA: What makes you excited to get out of bed in the morning?
Boynton: The ability to make an impact — whether it’s business, mentoring, or with family or friends.
INMA: What is your best piece of advice on work/life balance?
Boynton: Pick your spot and stick with it as much as you can; my spot was to come in [to work] very early but never miss dinner with the family.
INMA: What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned in your career?
Boynton: You never remember a result or a meeting or initiative; you only really remember the people that worked for you who went on to do great things and had great success.
INMA: What do you do to relax?
Boynton: Read, paint, play guitar, cottage maintenance, spend time with my wife and three kids, travel.
INMA: If you hadn’t gone into the news media, what was your backup plan?
Boynton: Another turnaround.
INMA: Have you read any books you’d recommend lately?